Time to let gratefulness overflow!

Hi, everyone and welcome to so many of you who found us in MORE Magazine this month. More than 200 of you and we’re thrilled you’re here!

Did you have a nice holiday weekend?

We sure did here on Martha’s Vineyard where we had a Friendsgiving — everyone eating turkey and pumpkin pie at our table was a beloved friend including two Women on Fire — Ann Graham and Ellen Wingard.

For the first time in a while, I really relaxed.  I spent much of the long weekend on the couch soaking in the warmth and gratitude from our Thanksgiving Day and reading.

I alternated between two inspiring biographies — on my Kindle was Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs and by the old-fashioned way — a hard-covered book! — I read Teddy Kennedy’s True Compass.

What those two men accomplished in their lives was motivating and profound to me.

And, then I came upon something wonderfully delightful and inspiring — this 10-minute video on opening our eyes and our hearts and allowing gratitude to overflow!

It was created by filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg speaking at Tedx/San Francisco.  Enjoy!



What did you think about the filmmaker’s interpretation of “Oh, my God!”?

And, how about that insightful little girl? “When you explore, you get more imagination than you already had. When you get more imagination,  it makes you want to go deeper in and and get more and see more beautifuller things.”  A mini-Woman on Fire, for sure!

I want to remember to live each day of my life like this — overflowing in awareness and gratitude — and I thought you might like it, too.

Have a wonderful week!  I am on my way to New York City for the last two Women on Fire teas in 2011.  I look soooo forward to seeing those of you who are attending.


Paint By Camera

I’m off in Lenox, MA in the Berkshires today to meet with Dr. Mark Hyman and his amazing staff.  Many of you know him from his many books and television appearances.

Mark is a leader in a new movement called functional medicine, where medical practitioners search for root causes of illness or pain rather than simply treat the symptoms.  Because of my recent thyroid surgery, (Spark #3 “Terrible Scare”) I am making double-sure I am taking all the necessary steps for optimal health!

Before I left, I had the pleasure of selecting this week’s Woman on Fire — Melissa McClain.  I feel like the luckiest person in the world to know so many inspiring and dynamic women.

By day, Melissa works in the crisis management field. The rest of the time you can find her with her camera, or in her studio  at melissaAnne Photography and Design where she uses all of her creative talent full out. From “painting” with her camera, Melissa has created a line of wonderful fabrics and beautiful watercolor prints that both awe and inspire with their beauty.

She lives in Brooklyn, NY and having only been introduced to Women On Fire 9 months ago, she is already a regular at our New York tea parties. This weekend she launches her abstract photography in an exhibit at Linger Cafe and Lounge, 533 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, at 7PM Saturday.

I am so inspired by the way Melissa holds down a full-time job and makes time to express her deepest passion, and I believe you will be, too!

Much love,

This week’s Woman on Fire: Melissa McClain
Joined Women on Fire: 2009

How did you come to be a part of Women On Fire?

My undergrad professor and now friend Dave Neal grew up with Debbie Phillips and connected us on Facebook.

What would you like other Women On Fire to know about you, your work, and your life?

I have spent the last 12 years working in Crisis Management and becoming an industry leader in Survivor and Family Assistance program design and crisis response for the private sector.  I have created programs for and responded to mass casualty aviation accidents, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters.  It is a career where you hope you are never really needed, know some day you will be, and when you are feel fortunate to lend a helping hand and make a difference for someone who is impacted, yet wish it had never happened.

A few years ago, photography became my “self-care” practice of choice.  It soothes me and gives me an opportunity to create things of beauty and joy. Last year I took a business trip to Iceland and I took a very random picture of the bottom of an old wooden boat.

The image that started it all

The colors and textures intrigued me and there was a sense of making something new and beautiful out of something worn and weathered.  That one unexpected photo moment opened up a new world for me inspiring the melissaAnne Water Colors and Urban Colors Collections.

These abstract images, representing hidden beauty in things like boat bottoms and walls of graffiti, provide colors and textures that inspire me and others.  I didn’t know it a year ago, but this is my true passion and this is how my soul communicates.  I am now expanding the Water Colors and Urban Colors Collections to textile designs and recently began making pillows from my custom fabrics.

Which Women On Fire Aspiration speaks to you the most?

I dedicate myself to using my strengths, gifts, and talents to make a difference in the world.

I was able to do this in my Crisis Management profession and have many ideas for integrating my photography and designs to support organizations such as Women for Women International, creating a foundation for art therapy resources for kids and teens who have experienced disaster or crisis situations, and supporting Cystic Fibrosis causes through fundraiser prints and products.

What is the most rewarding connection you have made so far from Women On Fire?

Women on Fire Ann Graham, Debbie Phillips and Melissa McClain

I have been a part of the WOF group for less than a year.  In that time I have met so many amazing women who I am grateful to call my friends.  The support, encouragement, and positive energy I receive on a daily basis helps me get through the tough moments of juggling an established career while transitioning to a new passion and purpose.  The genuine championing of other women make the accomplishments, big and small, all that more exciting and joyful!  I love being inspired and being able to share inspiration with other women who want to make a difference in the world, in their own lives, and the lives of others.

Melissa McClain and Sandra Carlson at recent tea party

What does Women On Fire mean to you?

WOF is women being genuine, and caring, and compassionate.  It’s valued friendships.  Some days it’s a shelter in a storm.  It’s a team of people celebrating successes, supporting when struggles appear, and inspiring each other to keep moving forward every day.  Moving forward not just for ourselves but for all the  women who come together here with dreams and goals, because our individual movements propel each other.

What would you like to tell other Women on Fire about their own hopes and dreams?

I borrow this idea from Debbie on a daily basis, but I now realize that it all comes down to one simple sentence:  Don’t give up before the miracle.  Don’t stop being in action.  Don’t get discouraged.  Believe in yourself, push yourself, do things that scare you (I sure have!), make mistakes (I’ve done that, too!), and keep working on whatever it is you have in your heart and soul.  It’s who you are, it’s what you have to offer to the rest of us and we can’t wait to watch you and support you on your way!

Given that your pursuits are so artistic and creative, do you get stuck?  If so, what’s your favorite way to get “unstuck”?

Strangely enough, I don’t get “stuck” too often creatively.

I seem to get “stuck” in life when I’m not being creative and fulfilling my passions.

To get unstuck, well, I make a date with my camera.  When I have my camera in hand I feel complete and the world seems to speak to me in a different way.   Writing about a photography adventure and sharing my pictures with others helps, too.


melissaAnne Photography and Designs

Here is some of Melissa’s beautiful work that she has created through her business —  melissaAnne Photography and Designs

Garden of Angels

Water Colors 10

If you would like to see even more, please visit Melissa at her website: www.melissaAnnegallery.com
or her blog:

Portrait of Melissa McClain by Rob Berkley

Women on Fire Tea Party photos by Shannon McCaffery